We stayed at a very inexpensive hotel called Hotel Martello on the Venice mainland “a short train ride into Venice”
. 10 minute walk to the station. 20 minute ride into Venice. Another 20-30 minutes on the taxi boat to Piazza San Marco, where all the action is. So, if you have more time than money, this was a good option! If I wasn’t on a budget, I would definitely stay on the island, near to San Marco or Rialto. And I would research good restaurants. We ate crap food in Venice and paid dearly for it. I had to console myself with copious amounts of gelato. I’m sure there is a lot more to see in Venice, but we were so tired of fighting the crowds, that we just wanted to get lost in the side streets and try to soak up what it must’ve been like in times past.
So, two weeks prior, we had left Spain with a 2010 Fodor’s guide that we had scored from the San Sebastian hostel (love hostel book exchanges- we unloaded a Wilbur Smith novel for it), ready to spend a month exploring Italy. I’m probably going to irritate and annoy more than a few people for saying this but… Italy was in a lot of ways a disappointment. It is definitely not the place to go on a budget, nor after 4 months of traveling which could actually be exhausting (I know, I’ll get no sympathy!). We ate A LOT of pizza, mainly because it was affordable and it is hard to mess up a pizza, especially in Italy. The few times we sat in a restaurant, it was crappy tourist food and the bill was always a minimum of 60 Euros
. I think we were burned out of the constant research that a person would carefully undertake if they were going to spend a 2 week vacation in a place like Italy. There are several works of art that you have to make reservations for months in advance. Therefore, we did not have a plan and we didn’t feel like making one! We also got a fair share of rain, which didn’t help the mood any. So, rather than throw more euros at it, we decided to leave Italy and come back when we could rent a car and balance the time in the tourist cities with some downtime in the countryside. There were obviously some highlights though, which I hope I captured!
What a weird place for a city! Venice is just a place you have to see to believe. But two days was enough. Imagine all the tourists in Rome, trying to get taxi boats into Venice with their huge suitcases and umbrellas because it is raining and all those same people packed into Piazza de San Marcos- I get annoyed just thinking about it! But for a brief moment, when you walk up to the Basilica in San Marcos, your throat chokes because it is so awesome, and you can forget all those people jockeying for the perfect photo. A brief moment. Then, we went to the small island of Murano, where they make the hand blown glass. We found a place a little off the beaten path (the place is so small this is hard to do), and we asked permission to watch the artist blow glass. We were allowed into his studio in the back, and watched in awe as he turned a piece of glass into a beautiful, perfectly shaped bead. Now I know why hand blown glass beads are so expensive!!